Perhaps you’ve seen the recent Gillette commercial about men being the best they can be. The phrase “the best a man can get” took me back to hazy “wonder years” when I wondered when I might need to shave anything at all.
As I watched the clip, it evoked similar beneath-the-surface feelings: recognition, conviction, inspiration and commitment. So I was surprised to hear and read that not everyone had the same positive impression of the clip as I did. In fact, I saw through one source that reactions against the commercial were 4:1 versus those that saw it as positive.
Reading a few of the angry posts denouncing it I saw a consistent theme: “I’m sick and tired of the countless messages I see and hear these days that tell me I’m not good enough as a man! In fact, I refuse to listen to your hate, shame and condemnation for what it means to be manly!”
If we’re honest I think we’d have to admit that, as timely or as needed as many think they are, #metoo or #timesup or the #toxicmasculinity posts often have a common thread to many men, “You’re gender is the problem. The less the rest of us have of you the better off we’ll be.”
I’ve met virtually no men who feel righteously convicted let alone inspired by that message. Especially if the communicator combines it with a sneer or a finger in the face. Any finger.
But that doesn’t mean the message is entirely off target; just the communication of it.
If you’re a guy, (or a woman for that matter), imagine a soccer coach, band director or debate coach who pulled you personally aside put his arm around your shoulder and said, “I’ve been watching you and I like what I see. But you consistently miss anticipating that pass, (or that key change or that opportunity to bring your point home). I know you have it in you. In fact, I’m convinced you have it in you. Others are counting on you because you matter. We need you.”
Is there anything you would not do to focus on that issue, listen to those around you, or learn from him in order to be who he sees you as being? No.
What I’ve learned over the years of being a guy, and speaking to them, is that men will respond to two significant messages: Honesty and Hope. But they both need to be present. Too much Honesty and no Hope, my brothers and I will walk away in disgust, shame or anger. Too much Hope and no Honesty, and the message doesn’t pierce. It just bounces off the outer armor.
Honesty and Hope. Jesus called it Truth and Grace. The apostle Paul called it Truth and Love. That’s what men need to hear. That’s what anyone needs to hear if they are going to be transformed.
So, male-bashers, enough with the shaming, demeaning, profanity-laced, one-directional messages that tear men down and ignore their God-designed glory. And men, lay down the armor just a minute when you see or hear a message that has both Honesty and Hope.
I’m telling you, I think Gillette got this one right. I’m done being one of the guys at the start of the clip. I want to be one of the guys at the end. I want to be the best man I can be. I think you do, too.
And we need you.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.